The Entrepreneurial Journey

Discussing the highs and lows of the first year in business

by EILEEN BERNARDI

 
WUNDERSTORIES_Career_2.jpg
 

We all know that starting a business can be daunting, and that the first year out can be filled with tremendous ups and downs. We decided to talk with three women who have just finished the first year of their entrepreneurial journey to find out what they did right, what they wish they had done better and what’s coming next. We spoke with Emilia Torres, founder of the children’s clothing brand Petit Kolibri, Lilija Bairamova, the founder of children’s clothing brand Orbasics, and Sandra Peralta, the founder of baby food brand, Little Leaf.

Lilija Bairamova

Orbasics, Founder

Wunder Stories Can you tell us a little bit about your brand and what inspired you to start your own business?

Lilija Bairamova Orbasics makes unisex clothing from super soft GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton. As a mom, I was always on the lookout for high quality and organic, yet affordable, clothing for my daughter Nika, but found it difficult to find anything to meet my standards. So I decided to come up with a better way to dress our kids - simple, mix’n match organic basics, of incredible quality and affordable for all parents.

WS What obstacles did you encounter within the first year of starting your business?

LB With a new company there is pretty much a never-ending stream of obstacles and challenges to overcome. Launching on Kickstarter was definitely a challenge! It was much tougher than I had expected, and I had to be creative, coming up with different ways of reaching the right audience. I also found that dealing with producers and setting up an eCommerce store took up a lot of time and energy.

Orbasics

Orbasics

Orbasics

Orbasics

WS Is there something you wish you had done differently starting out?

LB I would have definitely searched for a co-founder earlier! When managing a startup alone you sometimes miss having somebody to talk to and make decisions with. And of course someone with whom to share responsibilities. You can always discuss issues with friends and family, but it’s not the same as having someone as fully invested as you.

WS What are some of the resources you found really helpful when launching your business? 

LB I’m a big fan of (author and entrepreneur) Seth Godin...his marketing wisdom is really inspiring and helped me to find a clear vision of who I am and who I want to be, and discover the principles that guide me in my product and marketing decisions. Tim Ferriss (author of The 4-Hour Work Week) also has an amazing podcast that helped me to stay inspired and approach things more strategically. Skillshare is another great resource with lots of high quality tutorials on a range of topics.

WS What has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?

LB The Kickstarter experience was quite a roller coaster, and the fact that it succeeded made Orbasics possible in the first place. I'm still very grateful to all the people that trusted me with their money and brought Orbasics to life!

WS What are your goals for the next year?

LB My goal is to add more products to the kids collection and to launch our very first collection for moms!

 
LILJA.jpg
 

Lilija Bairamova is the mother of Nika, the founder of Orbasics and a member of the Wunder Stories community.


 
 

Sandra Peralta

Little Leaf, Founder

Wunder Stories Can you tell us a little bit about your brand and what inspired you to start your own business?

Sandra Peralta At Little Leaf we make fresh baby food that stands out for its quality and taste. Our baby food is fresh, similar to what you would make yourself, and isn’t heat-treated like most brands do in order to remain shelf-stable. Our high pressure method means our food stays fresh for up to 12 weeks. 

The idea for starting my own company came about when I was preparing baby food for my second child. I was impressed with the huge difference in quality between shelf-stable and freshly prepared baby food, and wondered why it wasn’t possible to buy chilled, fresh baby food that was full of nutrients in the supermarket.

WS What obstacles did you encounter within the first year of starting your business?

SP Launching a product takes a lot of time, which I wasn’t expecting. It took me almost two years to research, find suppliers, finish the packaging and start production.

Little Leaf

Little Leaf

Little Leaf

Little Leaf

WS Is there something you wish you had done differently starting out?

SP I would probably prioritize differently how I spent my money. For example, I used a lot of my resources on PR and social media that I didn’t really use.

 

WS What are some of the resources you found really helpful when launching your business? 

SP Definitely connecting with other founders of food start-ups who knew what they were doing. I learned so much, as it is generally a young and open-minded crowd. I also loved getting positive feedback from our customers...it helped me get through some tough times knowing that people loved the product as much as we do!

 

WS What has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?

SP Looking back, I can already say that I’ve achieved something pretty big: launching a product, negotiating with large trading companies, dealing with financial investors. It’s a personal success because I learned that I can do this! Also, the constant underestimation that one encounters as a women entrepreneur makes it even more of a success.

WS What are your goals for the next year?

SP We are starting to work with the big retail chains, so I’m really looking forward to seeing our product in the organic stores soon!

 
SANDRAPERALTA.png
 

Sandra is the mother of Paco and Luisa, the founder of Little Leaf and a member of the Wunder Stories community.


 
 

Emilia Torres

Petit Kolibri

Wunder Stories Can you tell us a little bit about your brand and what inspired you to start your own business?

Emilia Torres As a child, I spent my afternoons playing with fabric in my grandma`s atelier. She was a tailor and made gorgeous wedding dresses. She taught me all about fabric, stitching and knitting, and I liked to use her leftover fabrics to make dresses and accessories for my dolls. Since then, textiles have been close to my heart, and I am passionate about creating an innovative and sustainable way to produce textiles while also creating social impact. In 2016 I created my brand, Petit Kolibri, a lifestyle boutique for children from 0-4 years old. I believe children are the future, and only through love and good care can they grow. The first years are really important for the development of personality. I create the purest collections of clothing to allow children to be free, using only undyed baby alpaca.

WS What obstacles did you encounter within the first year of starting your business?

ET Launching a new business is always challenging, especially as immigrant and a women. The first obstacles that I had to overcome were mental barriers that I had created. I’m a perfectionist, so I had to quickly deal with the fact that not everything will be perfect, and embracing some imperfection is part of doing business. Then, of course, came the bureaucracy and import/export issues. In the beginning stages it’s all about learning fast and adapting quickly.

WS What is something you wish you had done differently starting out?

ET I wish I had believed more in myself and the product. In the beginning I was shy and unsure if people would like and buy my product. Yet, I soon realized that they did love it, and I received so many compliments that encouraged me to continue. But, it would have been nice to know this before, to have been strong and bold from the beginning. Some mistakes can be rather expensive, so I also wish I had been surrounded by people who had expertise in the areas I didn’t, like logistics and taxes.

Petit Kolibri

Petit Kolibri

Petit Kolibri

Petit Kolibri

WS What are some of the resources you found really helpful when you launched your business?

ET There are some tools that have been really helpful for my brand development. Asana is one of my favorites. It’s a planner app that helps you keep track of your tasks and for scheduling your personal and professional time. I’ve also learned that it’s very important to find good people to work with, focus on the things I’m good at and outsource everything else.

WS What do you feel has been the highlight of your brands Journey?

ET Throughout this journey I have been very lucky, and have encountered some small but significant milestones. The highlight has been Petit Kolibri making an appearance at the first ever international fair, KID Paris in 2017. I was the only Latina there, in a foreign country, speaking a foreign language. The buyers and bloggers were so kind, and I received so many orders from buyers. This meant a lot to me and gave me the strength to continue with the brand.

WS What is your biggest goal for the next year?

ET I hope to enter new markets, like the US east coast and Japan. I would also like to make more of an impact and outsource distribution.

 
EMILIATORRES.jpg
 

Emilia Torres is the mother of Kian, the founder of Petit Kolibri and a member of the Wunder Stories community.


STORIESshirley Schreyer